I’ve been a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald ever since I read The Great Gatsby back in high school. Between his writing style, subject matter and interesting life, I always read everything I can about him. So I was pretty excited when I stumbled across Fool For Love.
This isn’t a biography in the traditional sense. It doesn’t give a chronological account of his life from birth to death. Rather, this book focuses on a few parts of Fitzgerald’s life and then goes into great detail about those parts. The big focus here, as the title suggests, is how love played such a huge role in both his life and writing.
Fitzgerald had a penchant for women, especially women that came from wealth. He sought and needed their approval to keep his self-esteem at a healthy level. On top of this, he also aspired to be part of a higher social class (the same class he often criticized), escaping his modest middle-class childhood. The idea of how money affects the concept of love, and how Fitzgerald views women, is a major theme that runs through much of his work.
Given the book’s title, a considerable portion of the book talks about Fitzgerald and love in one way or another. It’s the common thread that binds everything else together.
Another part of Fitzgerald’s life this book focuses on is probably the most tragic: alcohol. In the end, it’s his alcoholism that kills him at the age of 44. I wrote in a previous post, 5 Reasons Why Many Writers Drink, the relationship between writers, creativity and alcohol, so I’m not going to go into much detail here.
This book details not only the consequences of alcohol on Fitzgerald’s health, but also how it affected his social status among friends and fellow writers. I found it amazing that he had any friends at all by the time he died given his horribly offensive behavior when drunk – which was a lot. Both he and his wife Zelda fed of each other’s alcohol-induced immaturity and, to put it bluntly, made asses of themselves in front of others.
Other Psychological Issues
The book also touches on Fitzgerald’s personality, which is characterized as one who seeks out a lot of drama. He not only sought out drama, but was the cause of a lot of it. While the book doesn’t claim to make a psychological diagnoses, it does suggest Fitzgerald could’ve suffered from histrionic personality disorder.
I was able to appreciate this limited psychological analysis of Fitzgerald, even with a basic understanding of psychology. One cannot deny that he had problems; severe depression being among them. He used alcohol not only to party, but to self-medicate with as well. His life seemed to be a never-ending cycle of alcohol, depression and tragedy.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and have no problems recommending it to anyone who is interested in Fitzgerald’s life. Like I said in the beginning, this isn’t a traditional biography. It jumps around a lot. If you keep this in mind, I don’t think it’ll disappoint.
NOTE: The only problem I had is that it’s filled with typos, no doubt a result of lazy ebook formatting and editing on the part of the publisher. Words are misspelled in ways I didn’t even know were possible.